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Senyshyn Learning to Adjust With Providence

Bruins forward prospect finding his way at professional level

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - For the last three-plus seasons, Zach Senyshyn has had little trouble showing off his impressive goal-scoring prowess. In 195 games for the OHL's Soo Greyhounds, the 2015 first-round pick tallied 114 goals.

Senyshyn joined Alex DeBrincat as the only OHLers to register back-to-back 40-goal campaigns over the last two seasons, and his 87 goals during that stretch trailed only DeBrincat's 116.

But scoring goals becomes increasingly more difficult while climbing the ladder towards the National Hockey League. And Senyshyn is learning to adjust.

The 20-year-old joined the Providence Bruins following the conclusion of the Greyhounds' playoff run a few weeks ago and has since played in three postseason contests, including the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals against Syracuse. The 6-foot-3, 196-pound winger has not yet found the scoresheet, but has created several strong offensive opportunities over his last two games as he continues to find his way at the professional level.

"It's a very tough spot. But he's very eager to learn," said Providence head coach Kevin Dean. "You saw he's gotten a breakaway, one each game [against Syracuse]…You can see he's got some real attributes that will make him a good pro hockey player.

"He's got speed, seems to have some courage on the wall, goes to the front of the net. Those are all good things. We'll continue to work with him on a few things. He seems to like to change the flow, he recognizes that maybe a little more slowly than we'd like, but he's 19 years old. That will come.

"He's very engaged, which is good, he wants to be coached, he wants to learn. He's only going to get better."

The biggest adjustment for Senyshyn has been the uptick in physicality and strength. He has gone from playing against teenagers to battling against men with years of experience at both of the AHL and NHL levels.

"These guys are grown men," said Senyshyn. "That's the biggest jump from junior. You've really got to be defensively responsible and kind of know the details of the game because some of the guys on the other team can really expose you if you don't."

Dean, however, has been pleased with Senyshyn's play in the dirty areas, while acknowledging there is still plenty of room for growth.

"You're playing against guys that have beards and have families, so physically it can be a little daunting," said Dean. "He seems willing to get in there. He doesn't look light on the perimeter, he's getting to the net…his wall play is pretty good. It's just going to be fine-tuning those little things, but his skills and abilities are there."

Senyshyn, who battled through mononucleosis and an appendectomy ahead of the 2016-17 season, had hopes of making it to Boston out of training camp, but was returned to junior to further his development - a decision that, while disappointing, was one he understood.

"Obviously you want to be up with the big club, it's my dream to play for the Boston Bruins," said Senyshyn. "But I think it was really critical to my development to be able to go back and really work on the details of my game and really develop as a player.

"I think kind of looking at it in retrospect, it was a great development opportunity for me. I was really happy for my time in Sault Ste. Marie and I'm really proud in the way I was able to take my game to the next level this year with the Soo.

"I'm really excited for that next jump with Providence. You just want to soak up as much as possible in whatever situation you're in."

The process Senyshyn is going through is one that fellow 2015 first-round pick Jake DeBrusk (19-30-49 in 74 games) has experienced this season in his first professional campaign. Taken just one pick after DeBrusk, Senyshyn is often linked to his fellow winger and has kept close tabs on his development.

"Jake's had an incredible year," said Senyshyn. "It's a guy that I've kind of went through the draft with, went through our first development camps, first main camp - he's a very close friend of mine and a guy I really look up to in the room, a guy I can really talk to and learn a lot from.

"I think it's really great for me to have a player like that and a guy that I know so well and I know his game. It's been great to learn from him and through his process this year."

The Bruins hope to see both of them donning the Spoked-B on their chests in the no-so-distant future. But for now, Senyshyn's attention is on continuing his development - and helping Providence advance to the Calder Cup Final.

"I think I'm just trying to focus on the playoffs right now and try to help out Providence any way I can right now," said Senyshyn. "We're really focused on this run and I think we've got a really special group in there. It's been a great opportunity for me to start being a part of this group.

"I'm just going to work with them here and have a big summer because coming here I've learned it's a big jump to this level and even bigger jump to the next one."

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